Libraries are giving back every day by providing a place to connect and to be a part of a coordinated community response addressing individual needs. Libraries are a place to learn about local needs, to share experiences, find resources and offer ways help.
Get to know your local communities needs. Find ways to connect patrons and colleagues to the resources they need.
How do you help connect others with health and human-services support? Join the discussion today.
Ways to GiveGive with a conscience
"Now, I want to give back! I want to know how I can contribute to the collection at the Douglas prison complex in Benjamin's name for the Christmas season. Can you help me? How do we as librarians in public libraries contribute to facility collections?" —WebJunction Discussion Board participant
"Try to make sure people are having fun. The holiday season can bring on depression but work can also be the place you go to be away from family pressures."—WebJunction Discussion Board respondent
Contributions to your local Friends of the Library organization or Friends memberships:
Ways to Help
Stay connected with local volunteer centers in your community.
Share your volunteer opportunities with individuals in your local community and corporations to broadly recruit potential volunteers.
Learn more about ending homelessness in your community: http://www.endhomelessness.org/
Support Disaster planning and efforts in your community: http://webjunction.org/do/Navigation?category=11540 and http://webjunction.org/do/DisplayContent?id=12431
Help build this list of ideas begun by Stephen Miller, Little Falls, MN:
A list of ideas for encouraging the community to join your Friends group, as well as program ideas for the Friends and your library
Rural Brainstorms for more ideas from fundraising to advocacy and how your Friends can get involved.
Volunteer Recognition It's not about the plaque on a wall, it's about the recognition of a job well done
“We're not into plaques (otherwise known as dust-catchers...). We donate a book to the library in an area of interest to the volunteer and note the award with a bookplate inside the cover.”
“Our Board of Trustees honor our volunteers at a reception each April. It is sometimes during National Library week or national Volunteers Week. (it's a trustee pot Luck, so no public funds used) They also have a book or 2 donated in honor of all the volunteers for that year. We usually pick something of local interest. Last years picture book of a Garden walk in the near by city was a huge hit and was later checked out by many of the volunteers.”
“After 10 years as book sale chairwoman, I tend to look at things in terms of how many books were sold to earn the funds. One year I was given a gift card for a dinner out. I appreciated the sentiment, but still was a bit annoyed because that is NOT what I spent all those hours volunteering for. A verbal acknowledgement is welcome, and a book plate in a new library book is good too.”
—quotes from the FOLUSA Discussion List
Principles to follow for volunteer recognition as suggested by the Points of Light Foundation:
- Deliver recognition in a personal and honest manner. Avoid providing recognition that is too overproduced.
- Tailor your recognition and reward to the unique needs of the people involved. Having many recognition and reward options enables an organization to acknowledge accomplishments in ways appropriate to a given situation.
- Timing is crucial. Recognize contributions throughout a project. Reward volunteers close to the time that the volunteering occurs. Time delays weaken the impact of the recognition program.
Have a clear message. Be sure that volunteers understand why they receive awards, and the criteria used to determine awards. Create a clear, well-communicated connection between accomplishments and the recognition received.
Library Volunteers are winners!
Learn about the impact of volunteer recognition here.
Where to Turn
Create a coordinated response to the needs in your community.
Connect with the people and social service agencies, local community information lines and crisis lines that are committed to doing this work.
Help share information on the community services individuals and communities need to sustain and improve their daily lives--health care and childcare, job training, education and recreation, retirement, disability and social service information.
Help your patrons and colleagues find the help they need
Brush up on addresses of local shelters, venues/dates/times for free holiday dinners
Reminder of hotlines for those dealing with depression or considering suicide
Make sure you're participating as a drop off for local food and toy drives
Think about any opportunities to bring staff together for any community volunteer opportunities (serving at a soup kitchen, story time in a family shelter)
Develop strategies for engaging all ages in of your library to be engaged in issues surrounding homelessness and other health and human needs
- Collection Development—add books and other resources to address questions that come up about homelessness.
Ten Things You Can Work on to Better Serve Low Income People in Your Library
from the Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force website (Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association)
Treat all library users fairly, regardless of economic status.
Read and implement the American Library Association’s Policy 61, Library Services for the Poor.
Learn about and establish contacts with local community groups and support agencies that provide services to and advocate for low income people.
Keep an updated list of temporary housing, educational and health facilities, family services, legal assistance and food pantries at all your reference desks.
Subscribe to and read your local street papers. Go here to find the one for your area.
Check out the Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Task Force’s blog and ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services’ web site for the latest in news, links, and ideas.
Develop a sensitivity training to help staff understand and better assist low income users. (Toronto Public did it!)
Take another look at your library card registration policy to see that it does not exclude people living in temporary housing.
Bring library programs to a temporary housing facility. Storytimes, book discussions, and poetry readings are always popular outreach activities.
Make an effort to research other libraries’ innovative programs and policies that serve the information and literacy needs of low income people. Also, don’t forget to publicize and share your own.